Changes To Facebook Targeting & How They Impact Your Charity

Facebook has become a renowned tool for advertisers to hone in on their target audience. The sheer power of Facebook’s ad platform, leveraging the pile of data they have on user behaviour, interests, and demographics that has catapulted Facebook into the behemoth that they have become. 

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This targeting data, whilst robust, has led to an increase in conversations about the intrusiveness of ad targeting. Do “they” know too much about us? Is this getting too prying? As a direct result of these conversations, Facebook is trimming things back slightly. 

These changes are significant, especially if you’re a charity using Facebook for an ad campaign. Read on to find out more about the upcoming changes to Facebook Ads’ detailed targeting options. Facebook’s official release on the subject can be found here.

These changes will hit your account from January 19, 2022, onwards. 

You will say goodbye to detailed targeting options on Facebook Ads that Facebook deems as “sensitive topics”. These include audience based targeting options that might infer:

  • Health conditions
  • LGBTQI+ & same-sex marriage preferences/interests
  • Religious/ Spiritual practices
  • Political beliefs
  • Specific interest in social causes and issues

Why is Facebook Changing Their Targeting Options?

Facebook is removing these interest targeting options due to concerns that they could be used in ways that lead to people in underrepresented groups having “negative experiences”. To be clear, the change isn’t targeting charity advertisers only. It’s more that charity advertisers who are one of the groups likely to feel the impact of these changes the most! 

These changes are all about Facebook working on reducing the potential for abuse. They’re treading a fine line when it comes to keeping users engaged and happy whilst profiting off selling what many see as personal data to advertisers.

The result will be that people don’t see as many ads that are related to sensitive topics. This could be good for some users. However, the implications for advertisers looking to achieve social good are probably clear to see. 

What if you’re fundraising for a particular medical condition? Doesn’t it make sense to target those people who have expressed an interest in that specific condition? What if you’re a mental health charity looking to support people who are dealing with particular issues? The list goes on. Facebook has had this debate internally and decided that the changes are still in the overall interests of protecting user privacy and maintaining positive experiences.

Now what? What will happen to my existing ad sets with impacted targeting options?

You can still run existing ad sets with impacted targeting options until March 17, 2022. 

But, the time to start planning for life after these changes is now! After March 17, 2022, impacted ad sets might end up being automatically paused.

Despite the potentially significant impact of these changes, there is still hope. Some of your previous top-performing audiences may no longer be reachable using your current targeting criteria. There are still a few things you can do: 

  • Use Custom Audiences: to reach your existing supports and advocates.
  • Create a Lookalike (LAL) segment based on the Custom Audiences: This allows you to broaden your audience reach and reach people who “look like” your custom audiences. Be sure to experiment with different degrees of lookalikes, e.g. 1-2%, 2-3% and so on.
  • Target people who have already engaged with your organisation’s website – again, you can build lookalike audiences from these audiences.
  • Start to experiment with new audience hypotheses in a structured manner. Just because you can’t hone in on the same groups doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to find other audience sweet spots that work well.
  • Start diversifying to other platforms – Digital Ninjas have long been encouraging the causes we work with to “spread the risk” by testing other platforms. It’s still the case that Facebook/Instagram are the mainstay of results for most organisations. However, we’re seeing increasing success with TikTok, Outbrain and many other established and emerging platforms.

If you are worried about Facebook’s upcoming changes or have any questions regarding your digital marketing strategy, don’t hesitate to reach out to us using the form below.

Stuck faffing with Facebook?

Get in touch and we’ll help you get your Facebook campaigns firing on all cylinders.

    Jon Dawson, CEO of Digital Ninjas
    Jonathan will get back to you soon